Since the hullaballoo over the eligibility or otherwise of the floating of a security outfit tagged ‘Amotekun’ by the South West State began, I have read and also listened to all shades of arguments in support or against the initiative and the subsequent response of the federal government through the chief law officer of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami. The furore started when the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice ordered the disbandment of the rickety security outfit.
While some opinion leaders and analysts are approaching the issue with open mind and genuine concern for national unity, national security and integration of Nigeria, others are brazenly out to brew mischief in a bid to hoodwink patriotic Nigerians to buy into their gullible arguments that Amotekun is the only way to go! Nothing can be more misleading. Apostates of the Nigerian state have found active collaborators in the media circle to force down the throat of Nigerians, the Amotekun argument.
The statement from the AGF is emphatic and clear enough: “Setting up of the organisation “runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law. Federal Republic of Nigeria is a sovereign entity and is governed by laws meant to sustain its corporate existence as a constitutional democracy.” This implies that Policing is a federal duty under the exclusive list of the Nigerian constitution. This statement is explicit enough and should have sufficed to nail the coffin of Ametokun. However, opinions are sharply divided as mischief makers are battling frantically to justify the constitutionality of the security arrangement.
The provision of item 45 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) authorises the Police and other federal government security services established by law to maintain law and order. The implication of this is that no state government, whether singly or in a group has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organization or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.
Even if a security arrangement of this nature is to be contemplated, the South West governors were supposed to have consulted Malami’s office for proper guidance to ensure that Nigeria’s defence and corporate entity are preserved at all times.
To start with, section two of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria specifically states: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” In pursuance of this objective, the federal government established the Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps to maintain internal security, while the army is to preserve the territorial integrity of Nigeria. The federal government in collaboration with the state government has been partnering effectively on the better use of the Nigerian Police.
However, for a geo-political zone of the country to go full stretch that it wants to float its own security outfit is suspicious and leaves much to be desired. For the records, in a presidential democracy such as Nigeria is practicing, the buck stops on the president’s table. The number one mandate of any Commander-in-Chief is first and foremost the preservation of the sanctity of the state and safety of lives and properties of the citizens.
In doing that, the president has, at his disposal, toughest and ‘toppest’ security information from the intelligence arm of the executive. Thank goodness that the man at the helm of affairs at the Nigerian national security, Major General Babagana Mongonu (rtd), is a thorough bred intelligence czar, who will not allow things to go wrong under his watch. Acting on security reports available to him, the National Security Adviser (NSA) has advised the federal government accordingly on the implication of allowing geo-political zones to float security outfits. Toeing the path of the NSA and the AGF, egg-heads and genuine security experts have described the move by South West governors as an open invitation to anarchy.
To begin with, the federal government is already contending with too many security issues at the moment. To allow Amotekun, whose end is obvious for all to see, is to compromise the sanctity of the state. Governments in the past have, at one time or the other, failed to nip issues like this in the bud and they translated into the grievous security concern Nigeria is facing today. Book Haram is a good example of why government should not treat issues of security with levity.
Amotekun is an ill wind – a bad omen that may in the long run, disintegrate Nigeria because if allowed, other geo-political zones will follow suite and that will undermine the federal government’s ability to properly secure the country.
This is not the first time Nigeria is having this debate. The three regional governments in Nigeria in the First Republic had their Police. One would recall how the Regional Government Police became a tool for oppressing perceived opponents/enemies of government. What assurance has Nigerians that Amotekun will not go the same way? As it stands, some security experts say they cannot differentiate between Amotekun and the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC).
It is foolhardy to think that Amotekun will not, in the end, create security challenges for Nigeria. For instance, since the 1999 Constitution created State Independent Electoral Commissiaon (SIEC), it has been from one complaint to another. Elections into local councils have grown progressively worse under this period. Is it Amotekun that will not become another disaster like Boko Haram?
From the start we are begging to see how primitive Amotekun is going to operate in 21st century. They have boasted of ancestors and reliance on fetishism in the conduct of their security operations. Will that not run contrary to the oath President Muhammadu Buhari took to preserve and protect the right of every Nigerian? Amotekun will only be an anti-thesis that must be nipped in the bud to avoid another painful civil war.
President Buhari is capable and he is repositioning Nigeria for a peaceful and prosperous society. For instance, among other concerns, the president had in the last few months closed the country’s land border to tackle insecurity. This step, described by many as a masterstroke, is beginning to yield results as crime has dropped significantly.
Distractions like Amotekun are the least priorities of government for now. The real appeal is to the South West governors. They should engage their time in meaningful engagements that will translate to better life for the states instead of playing to the gallery or throwing tantrums that constitute distraction to national debate.
– Ibrahim is Director, Communication and Strategic Planning, of the Presidential Support Committee